How You Can Champion LGBTQ+ Causes All Year Long

It's A Sin opened up the conversations about equality this LGBTQ+ History Month.

LGBTQ+ History Month winds up for another year at the end of February, but queer people continue to need support and have their voices and stories heard.

After all, the pandemic has had a disproportionately damaging effect on them, according to research by the LGBT Foundation. But there’s been good news for representation, too: TV show It’s A Sin has opened up the conversations about equality and put fire in people’s bellies to support the community.

It's A Sin opened up the conversation about LGBTQ equality this LGBT History Month
Channel 4
It's A Sin opened up the conversation about LGBTQ equality this LGBT History Month

It felt timely that the show was released during LGBTQ+ History Month, which aims to “claim our past, celebrate our present and create our future”. But, if you’re looking for ways to give back and support the queer community all year round year, not just for a calendar month, here’s a good place to start.

Support: the ‘Stop Dithering’ campaign

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner since the late 1960s, wants to call time on what he refers to as the UK’s “dithering” approach to banning conversion therapy. The “therapy” – still legal in the UK – is the controversial practice of supposedly “converting” LGBTQ+ people from queer to straight.

Stephen Fry in It's A Sin, who supports Peter Tatchell's campaign
Channel 4
Stephen Fry in It's A Sin, who supports Peter Tatchell's campaign

There’s no scientific evidence to back the so-called therapy, and although the government committed to banning it in 2018, no action has been taken.

Tatchell named it the ‘Stop Dithering’ campaign. You can support the work of him and actor-supporter Stephen Fry by signing the petition. “I urge you to sign this petition and call on the UK government to act swiftly to honour its pledge to make this cruel, contemptuous and harmful practice illegal,” says Fry.

Stonewall is also lining up a campaign to raise awareness around the banning of conversion therapy. Watch this space.

Wear: garms that support LGBTQ+ causes

One of the biggest takeaways from It’s A Sin was the ‘La!’ catchphrase. Queer coded language has been an essential means of communicating for centuries. Queer historian Dr Justin Bengry, who convenes the MA in Queer History at Goldsmiths, says this language is “critically important” for LGBTQ+ people.

Designer Philip Normal has responded to the phenomenon of ‘La!’ with these tees, so queers and their allies can spot each other around town. £20 of the £25 retail price goes to support the work of the Terrence Higgins Trust. They’ve already raised more than £250,000 from sales of T-shirts alone.

Share: this LGBTQ+-inclusive teaching guide

A great way to support LGBTQ+ people throughout the year is by reading – and communicating – the importance of a good education for young people. Section 28 in England stopped LGBTQ+ culture from being taught in schools. It was eradicated in 2003 and, since then, teachers have worked to make education more inclusive. But there’s work to do.

Stonewall made education its focus in 2021, and created an inclusive teaching resource offering a guide to delivering LGBT-inclusive Relationships, Heath and Sex Education (RHSE). They’re encouraging anyone who knows teachers to share the document online – it lays out clear, simple ways to make education more relatable to all that go through school.

The document outlines key terminology to use, as well as going through the way teachers might discuss LGBTQ+ relationships and sex education with primary and secondary school-level pupils.

Watch: the It’s A Sin After Hours discussions

It’s A Sin’s partner show – After Hours – involves cast interviews with celebrity appearances, which educate about HIV and AIDS today.

The aim is to show life for the men in It’s A Sin is a million miles away from what life is like for people at risk or living with HIV now, thanks to research and widely available medication and treatment programmes, like PrEP. The roll-out of PrEP in England began on October 1 2020, after the government announced it had allocated funds to local councils.

Each episode takes a different theme, but we’d suggest watching the one above for a discussion about how HIV is changing. Share with a friend or two to remind them the health outcomes shown in the series are now historical.

HIV is no longer a death sentence in the UK, but it still affects people’s lives. The stigma around the disease is rife – and there’s work to be done to break that.

Play: livestream in solidarity with trans people

Do you game on Twitch, Mixer or YouTube? There’s a way to fundraise while you play. Trans charity Mermaids is encouraging gamers to get viewers to donate to them for doing challenges. For instance, gamers might like to only use one type of tool or weapon to win if it’s a combative game, or they might like to dress like their character in a silly outfit while they play.

Other suggestions include a 24-hour gaming marathon, with sponsorship from friends, family and viewers, or a ‘speed run’ where gamers try to complete a game in an impressive time.

The charity suggests using fundraising service Tiltify to arrange the fundraising. “Trans and gender diverse young people can feel isolated due to challenges in their daily lives,” says the charity, “and we know from speaking to families that many of our children and young people find friends and a sense of community online, so showing your support on your livestream will mean the world to the children, young people and families we support.”


Donate: to charities to support ongoing research

There are plenty of places you can donate to – they all support ongoing research and peer work helping queer people across the country.

The akt youth homelessness charity, which supports vulnerable young LGBTQ+ people in particular, is one place to start – as well as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights charity, Stonewall, and the Terrence Higgins Trust, which campaigns about, and provides services relating to, HIV and sexual health. Mermaids supports transgender, non-binary and gender-diverse children, young people, and their families.

You could also buy badges, or make an online donation directly to the LGBTQ+ History Month page itself. Donations go towards “resources, training and services to schools and educational institutions”.

Useful websites and helplines:

  • London Lesbian & Gay switchboard (LLGS) is a free confidential support & information helpline for LGBT communities throughout the UK | 0300 330 0630
  • Manchester Lesbian and Gay Switchboard is a free support, information and referral service for the Manchester and North-West area | 0161 235 8000
  • Stonewall for more information on other LGBT services and helplines | 08000 502020
  • The Gender Trust supports anyone affected by gender identity | 01527 894 838
  • Mermaids offers information, support, friendship and shared experiences for young people with gender identity issues | 0208 1234819
  • LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for LGBT people in Scotland. Text 07786 202 370
  • Gires provides information for trans people, their families and professionals who care for them | 01372 801554
  • Depend provides support, advice and information for anyone who knows, or is related to, a transsexual person in the UK